A North Amityville pastor who sits on the board of Babylon Town and rents out a church-owned house without a license now appears to be selling the house.
The Reverend Keith Hayward of Bethel AME has withdrawn his rental permit application, which he submitted to the city in September, Babylon officials said. The church has rented the Sunshine Lane house since at least that time, they said. Under city code, landlords must have a license before renting a home, but city officials said it’s common for applicants to rent while their application is pending.
Neighbors were upset that the house was being rented and submitted a petition with 65 signatures asking the city’s rental board to deny the permit. The board held a hearing on Hayward’s request in March, but has not made a decision since then. On May 19, Babylon officials received a written request from Hayward “to change the captioned property from rental to sale,” according to the letter.
“I believe the pastor and his council heard the residents, heard the concerns, and made a decision that would be in the best interest of the church and in the best interest of the community,” City Supervisor Rich Schaffer said.
Hayward has been a member of the city’s secondary suite review board since 2018, for which he receives $8,000 a year. This council is responsible for reviewing apartments in homes with an onsite landlord.
When recently asked by Newsday if the church was selling the house, Hayward said, “We’re trying to figure out what the next step is we’re going to take.” When asked if that meant a potential sale, Hayward said, “We haven’t decided what we’re going to do yet.” He declined to comment further.
The property was seized by Suffolk County in 2014 for back taxes and condemned, according to city records. It was to be sold at auction, but was transferred to the city in 2017, then to the church under the county’s “72-H” program through which municipalities can transfer properties to nonprofit organizations for affordable housing. The property is now tax exempt.
Because it is affordable housing, there are restrictions on potential buyers, city officials said. Among the requirements, the person must be a first-time home buyer and their income cannot exceed 80% of Long Island’s median income, which for a family of four in 2022 is $146,400.
Residents welcomed the news of a possible sale.
“I feel much, much better,” said Mildred Hodgson, who has lived in Sunshine Lane for 51 years. “We don’t want tenants. As long as he finds someone who will buy it and keep the place nice, that’s all we care about.